TODAY |

Kate Sheppard's former Christchurch home 'a huge taonga for us as a country' - Megan Woods


It was 126 years ago today that New Zealand women became the first in the world to get the right to vote.

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The home will serve as a heritage venue and educational centre for the public. Source: 1 NEWS

Now, the Government has bought the very base of that suffrage campaign - Kate Sheppard's home.

"This is the house where Kate Sheppard and all the women worked so tirelessly for that right to vote, planned and organised that campaign," Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said in Christchurch today. "It was where the petition was pasted together in the kitchen, so it's a huge taonga for us as a country."

The $4.5 million commercial property negotiation took several attempts, but the Category One Heritage listing will now be a base for teaching and research through a partnership with the University of Canterbury.

"This is now a space that is open to the public. We can use it as an education place. It was in these rooms the discussions took place about the petition," Ms Woods said. "Imagine what can happen if we can have the next generation of young women learn about this history and be inspired in these walls."

The plan is to turn the 1888 villa into something truly spectacular - something Heritage New Zealand will have a big part to play in.

"The most significant rooms will tell the story of Kate Sheppard and the suffrage movement, but we will also widen that story - the important story of social change and society in general," Heritage New Zealand's Nic Jackson said. "There will also be academic rooms and research that will be undertaken in the house."

The home is now stripped bare of its previous belongings. but it's hoped it won't stay that way.

"We're hoping anybody that has any of furniture that Kate Sheppard had, they can step forward and there's now a good place for that to go," Ms Jackson said.

"We do know when Kate left New Zealand, there was an auction and all of her personal effects were sold at that auction so we are hopeful that some original items will return to the house."

The home will also remain a function venue open to the public.